Soy vs Paraffin: Which is Actually Better?
You may not have noticed, but odds are if you check the label on the candles in your home, you'll notice that some are made from paraffin wax, some are from soy wax, and others a combination of the two.
While newer types of wax are now entering the candle-making market, these two are the most common. Paraffin wax has long been the industry standard for candle makers. However, as consumers become increasingly interested in sustainability, soy wax candles are becoming a preferred option.
Both types of waxes have their own distinct properties. We thought we'd take the time to share them with you.
How They Are Made
Soy candles are all-natural. As the name implies, soy is the primary ingredient. While soybeans are a renewable and natural resource, making soy wax still takes some refinement and processing. After the soybeans are harvested, they are cleaned, cracked, de-hulled, and rolled into flakes. Another process separates the soybean matter from the soybean oil. The oil is then further refined, bleached, and hydrogenated. Even though soy wax candles continue to grow in popularity, it's still rare to find a 100% pure soy wax candle. They're some out there, but many will still have the soy and paraffin wax blend.
Paraffin candles are made from petroleum oil. Derived alongside lubricated oil-base stock during the dewaxing process of crude oil, paraffin wax is a chemical by-product consisting of hydrocarbons. In addition to candles, paraffin wax can also be found in polishes, cosmetics, wax paper and many other consumer goods.
Studies have found that paraffin wax candles release toxic fumes into the air while burning. While the soot released is not great for your respiratory system, it is also not extremely dangerous. It can, however, compromise the air quality in your home (more on that below!). As long as you burn your candles in a well-ventilated room and keep your wicks trimmed, you generally won’t notice any negative health effects from your candles.
The same study showed that soy wax candles did not release any harmful chemicals. Burning soy wax means lighting a biodegradable resource on fire. Therefore, it doesn't release harmful carcinogens and toxins into the air. Soy candles are ideal for those looking to keep their air quality at a clean and healthy level.
Burn Clean Ability
You may not notice this if you're not a frequent candle user, but candles can leave a nasty soot residue on your walls, drapes, and furnishings. Soy candles are much cleaner, leaving a cleaner residue meaning little-to-no soot residue. Soy wax candles also burn evenly, leaving almost no excess wax on the sides of the jar. And soy wax is easier to clean should wax spill, while paraffin takes a lot more effort to clean up.
Strength of Fragrance
Which is better for scent throw, soy or paraffin? Well, usually paraffin wax will offer a stronger scent throw than soy wax. Soy wax is more dense than paraffin wax and requires more heat to release its scent, causing the scent to be released slower. Since paraffin wax burns faster, it will also release scent easier, but that can cause an issue if you want your candles to last long…
Side note: looking for a flameless soy option that offers a stronger scent throw? Wax melts just might be the perfect option for you! Because they require a lot less heat to burn than candles, soy-based wax melts can offer a strong fragrance without the paraffin (or the flame!).
Length of Candle Burning
It's been proven that soy wax will burn 30% to 50% longer than a paraffin candle. That also makes them more cost-effective in the long run. They can burn up to twice as long as paraffin, giving you twice as much candle.
Now that you have a better idea of the differences in soy and paraffin candle wax, it's important to note that here at The Mind + Vibe Co., we are users of 100% soy wax for our homemade candles and wax melts.
Which type of wax do you prefer burning in your home?